1886: Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals

MONDAY, December 7, 2020 – 10:11 AM

Carnival of the Animals, age 50

It is scored for two pianos, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute (and piccolo), clarinet (C and B♭), glass harmonica, and xylophone.

Leonard Bernstein

This gives excellent info about each part of this set. There are a number of young people featured, but unfortunately this was before common multi-media presentations, so there is nothing to see. What a shame. Bernstein in his heyday was known as a very fine communicator, so his explanations of music remain highly prized. These tracks are divided up into separate files, but you can just start on any of them and let it run.

Małgorzata Sapiecha

This is one of many good performances where you can watch the players. There is no narration.

Andrea Licata

This is a great version for both the sound and getting an idea of what is happening in the score.

A good source of information while listening

The quality of the recording is not very good, and that’s a big minus, but there are interesting things here I did not know about.

Saint-Saëns was ashamed of this music

Saint-Saëns did not want this published in his lifetime – with the exception of “The Swan” – but allowed publication after his death. He was afraid that his reputation as a serious composer would be diminished. I would put this decision on my top 10 list of “really stupid decisions by famous composers”.

How about a kid-friendly version?

It would be nice, but so far the only versions I’ve found meant specifically for small children have had very inferior recorded sound.

4 thoughts on “1886: Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals

  1. I had to practise the “Swan” as a violin student a vaguely knew it was part of something larger called the Carnival of the Animals. I liked the two versions for different reasons: seeing which animals were represented in the first one, and seeing the instruments being played in the 2nd.

    I laughed at the”can can” theme played so very slowly for the turtles, and having scales exercises played in ascending keys for “music student animals” was an ingenious idea.

    1. The Swan may be Saint Saens most popular piece. But I like “Aquarium” the best. Most important to me is the fact that he would not allow publication until after his death.

  2. Thank you for posting both versions. The pictures of the animals were great. The other video featured another group of very talented young people. It’s always interesting to actually see what is going on. As with many others, The Swan is my favorite part.
    It would have been a shame if Saint Saens had not allowed this wonderful music to be published.

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